Weather Blog: Spring for the middle part of January!?

Good Sunday to you!

I hope you enjoyed this 15th day of the first month; it's hard to imagine that half of January is already over with, though! It actually felt like a mid-January day on this Sunday, something that we won't be able to say for the remainder of this week--just a little forecast hint ;) After starting with some low clouds and areas of drizzle today, we were mostly dry from the late-morning through the mid-afternoon. Despite this, though, a temperature inversion kept the low, stratus clouds in place--which didn't allow our temperatures to get out of the lower 40s for the most part. By the late-afternoon and evening--a quick-moving disturbance in the upper atmosphere led to a steady batch of mostly light rain showers that moved in from the west. While some streams have been running high recently, this rain wasn't heavy enough to cause any issues there. However, you still want to use caution on rain-slick roads and keep an eye out for some ponding overnight. Your complete and detailed seven-day forecast is below--

TONIGHT: Cloudy with scattered rain showers, mostly early on. Otherwise, chilly with low clouds and fog around. Low: 39.

  • As of Midnight, seeing a noticeable decrease in the scope of the rain showers--they simply aren't as widespread as what we saw earlier this evening. This seems to line up properly with the RAP short-run model, which shows an upper-level piece of energy/wave sliding towards our east currently. While the overall forcing for ascent (lift) may be decreasing, deep moisture up to about 10,000 feet remains, so additional showers--though pretty scattered in nature--can't be ruled out at times overnight. The surface warm-front, however, is still further south across parts of southeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia. Meanwhile, the lower atmosphere--given the stagnant flow and the recent rains--is loaded with moisture, so expecting low clouds and areas of fog to be the rule tonight. This fog will especially be dense across the higher terrain, so just use caution there. This especially looks true across the southeastern mountains, where an upslope flow will cool and saturate the column even more. Given the magnitude of this low-level moisture, areas of drizzle may occur at times. Actually not too concerned with icy issues for the most part, as temps will be very slow to fall tonight--if at all--given the cloud-cover and a warm-air advection regime in place. The only exception to this rule perhaps would be along and north of Route 50 in northern West Virginia and parts of southeast Ohio; current observations there show temperatures and dewpoints near 32 degrees, so just watch the bridges and overpasses especially in that corridor given the leftover moisture. By dawn tomorrow, temperatures may rise a degree or two, especially across parts of southern West Virginia.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MONDAY: After some areas of fog, low clouds and spotty drizzle to start the day, mostly cloudy and mild in the afternoon. An isolated rain shower or two passing by at times--but most of the day looks dry. High: 59.

  • Temperatures should be on the rise here, as an area of low-pressure moves into Missouri as the day goes on. This will cause the warm-front, which is just towards our south tonight, to move through by the late-morning and afternoon. This will allow our winds to shift more out of the southeast--which will cause the temperature inversion to break down altogether, so the low stratus clouds should loosen their grip some. A little skeptical of how little QPF (rain) the models show since a warm-front is crossing--and there appears to be some waves, albeit weak, moving overhead in the fast southwesterly flow aloft to augment rising air motions occasionally. Since we're talking about a surge of warm and moist air riding up from the southwest, it would be unwise to not have a shower chance in there; based on this and the aforementioned conditions, an isolated rain shower or two may make a brief appearance at times tomorrow--especially in the afternoon. Just something to keep in mind if you're attending Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations or the Gubernatorial Inauguration at the State Capitol. Given the southeasterly flow developing--which will naturally descend off the higher terrain--some breaks in the cloud-cover may occur as the day goes on, especially just west of the mountains near the Kanawha Valley. If this occurs more so than expected, then temperatures reaching the lower 60s are possible! With the way it looks now--40's will be the rule along the Route 50 corridor, upper 50s near I-64 and some 60's across the southern coalfields! By the late-afternoon and evening, models do show a band of instability developing across parts of Southeast Kentucky and southern West Virginia, as dewpoints climb into the 50's. That's actually pretty humid for this time of the year. While the forcing for ascent will be very limited for widespread activity, wouldn't be surprised for a stray shower and/or even thunderstorm to develop in that corridor by then.

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, unseasonably warm and turning breezy with rain showers. A thunderstorm or two possible for some. Rain should be most widespread early on. High: 66.

  • The day looks to start unsettled, as a surface low pressure moves towards Chicago the night prior; this will allow a surge of deeper moisture and a low-level jet to nose into our region along the southeastern periphery of this system, which should allow for a batch of heavy rain and possibly even some elevated thunderstorms to be our doorstep early in the morning--especially across western counties where the downsloping won't be as pronounced. It will be a mild start to the day--mostly around 50 degrees. A noticeable southerly breeze should be occurring, too--especially on the hilltops and ridges, as the low-level jet draws closer. A fairly widespread batch of rain--with some rumbles of thunder--should cross our region by the late-morning and early-afternoon based on the current run of the NAM model; it shows a pretty strong upper-level disturbance moving overhead in that time-frame. Behind this, however, the activity should turn much more scattered in nature during the 2nd half of the afternoon and evening. Before this, a half inch of rain is likely--with locally higher amounts; that shouldn't be enough to cause any water issues--but be careful if traveling, as ponding will be a concern. While the parent low-pressure doesn't look all that strong as it moves towards the Lake Erie and Western New York region, this system will push a cold-front our way by evening-time, so additional activity--though more scattered in nature--is likely by then. Models, given dewpoints rising into the mid to upper 50's out ahead of the front, do show some weak instability over our region by the late-afternoon and evening; therefore, thunderstorm activity remains possible. In fact, environmental winds will be quickly increasing and changing directions with altitude, so a brief strong or severe thunderstorm cell can't entirely be ruled out. This looks pretty isolated at best, though, since the best upper-level support will have moved north and east by then--mostly just frontal forcing driving this activity.

WEDNESDAY: After scattered rain showers--especially early in the day--mostly cloudy, cooler and brisk in the afternoon. High: 48.

  • We'll be behind the cold-front here, as it will cross overnight Tuesday into the morning hours. While the deepest moisture and the best large-scale lift will move east of us as the shortwave trough jumps over the Appalachians--a moisture-laden, westerly breeze will persist in it's wake. This 'upslope flow'--which will be forced to ride up the mountain slopes-- along with chilly air aloft to create a little bit of instability, will allow for scattered rain showers to occur early in the day. These should fade, however, by the afternoon, as a high-pressure begins to scour out the low-level moisture--first across western counties. In fact, we may end the day with some clearing--especially just west of Charleston. As for our mountain friends, expecting rain showers to be more persistent there--as the sharper change in terrain keeps the air rising. It may turn cold enough--considering that 850 mb (5,000) temps go below freezing--for some wet snowflakes and/or a little sleet above 3,000 feet in elevation, too. It doesn't look like a huge deal, though.

THURSDAY: After a chilly start, mostly sunny and turning unseasonably mild in the afternoon. High: 60.

  • Looks like a chilly start here--at least for this pattern's standards. Temperatures--given clearing skies and light winds from the night prior--should start in the low to mid 30s. However, expecting a good amount of sunshine in the afternoon thanks to a high-pressure nearby--before mid to high-clouds increase late out ahead of a warm-front in the lower Ohio Valley. With a slight southerly wind developing along the western periphery of this high-pressure, temperatures should make a run towards 60 degrees! The latest ECMWF model does show a faster return of moisture by evening-time compared to the past run--which may allow for some rain showers to near before Midnight--but not buying this solution quite just yet. Looks like a nice day!

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy and unseasonably warm with rain showers and possibly even a rumble of thunder or two at times. A bit breezy. High: 66.

  • Model guidance shows this warm-front and deeper moisture moving overhead here, as round one of a strong piece of upper-level energy ejects out of the lower Mississippi River Valley. The strong forced ascent (rising air) associated with the shortwave trough suggests some heavier rain will be possible at times, especially across western counties where the drying effects of downsloping aren't as significant. Some thunder can't be ruled out, either--as dewpoints rising into the spring-like 50's may yield a little bit of instability. Despite the rain, however, I think enough clearing will occur by the mid to late-afternoon to cause temperatures to spike well into the 60s, though--especially given a gusty, south-southwesterly flow.

SATURDAY: Partly cloudy and unseasonably warm with a slight breeze. High: 70.

  • Looks terrific! Kind of a pseudo high-pressure overhead, mostly due to the fact that it appears we'll be in between two areas of low-pressure--one off the east coast and another in the Midwest; in between, a lot of sinking air motions--which should keep the rain away. This very amplified jet-stream pattern should pump the warmth, too! This especially looks true since we'll be firmly entrenched in the 'warm-sector' behind the warm-front from Friday--and the Jet-Stream arching well towards the north. Have no reason to think that 70 degrees won't occur given the thin atmospheric moisture, which should allow for a decent amount of sunshine, a due south wind and 3,000 foot temps of around 58 degrees according to the latest run of the ECMWF; that usually means 70 degrees for the Kanawha Valley!

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, unseasonably warm and gusty at times. Scattered showers and thunderstorms possible--especially east and west. High: 69.

  • Models show a very deep and negatively-tilted upper-air trough digging all the way down into the Deep South here. As it does, ripples of upper-level energy will quickly move our way in the fast southerly winds aloft. Deep moisture and even some instability will come with it--setting the stage for showers and thunderstorms. While models show a rapidly strengthening low-pressure across Illinois--which should make the overall energy better for more widespread rains--feel that the pressure gradient (change in pressure over distance) may cause our winds to increase out of the southeast; this downsloping flow--which is notorious around our parts at drying the low-level air a good bit--may make it difficult for the Kanawha Valley and the western slopes to see widespread rain, so I thought scattered made more sense now. Eastern and western counties, like you would normally expect in a downsloping regime, stand the best chance of seeing scattered showers and storms with the way it looks now. Any convective shower and/or thunderstorm that can form on this day may turn strong to severe given the magnitude of the wind-fields and the dynamics aloft, so this is something that will need to be watched across parts of the Ohio Valley and the Central Appalachians. Otherwise, an unseasonably warm day given how far north the Jet-Stream is and the downsloping flow.

Have a great night and take care!

WCHS Meteorologist, Brandon Stover

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